Friday, February 29, 2008

Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stuck in the Middle

Revell (February 1, 2008)


Virginia Smith


Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.

Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!


Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.

"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~

Interview with Ginny:

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

I started writing a long time ago—back in the mid-1980’s—when I read a short story in a magazine and I thought, “I could do better than that.” I was so naïve! It took me over 20 years and 143 rejection letters to produce a publishable piece of fiction. I never expected to become a full-time writer. While all those rejection letters were accumulating, I would have been happy just publishing a single short story. But the Lord had other plans—and His plans are sooo much better than mine!

How do you balance family life with writing?

Writing is my job, and that’s how I treat it. I ‘go’ to work in my office every morning after breakfast, and put in a full day just like I did when I worked in the corporate world. And I stop working every day around 5:00 to start dinner. So finding a balance between work and family life isn’t any harder for me than it is for every other career person. Honestly, what sucks my attention away from my family is e-mail! I can get lost for hours at a time in e-mail if I’m not careful.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

My relationship with the Lord is such an integral part of my life that I can’t imagine doing anything—especially writing—without Him. Writing is something we do together, a time of intense fellowship with Him. As I’m working on a story, I keep up a running dialogue with Him. I sit at my computer and mumble, “Okay, Lord, how am I going to get this character out of this predicament?” and “Ooh, that was great, Lord! I didn’t see that coming!” So my time with Him happens all day long, and it’s the thing I love most about writing.

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

My process tends to differ a little with each book, especially since I write in multiple genres. But roughly:

  • Conception: When it’s time to pitch a new story, I pray for an idea. I mull it around for a week or so until I have a good idea of the direction the story will take.
  • Familiarization: With contemporary novels, I jump right into the writing, and complete the first 3 chapters. This really solidifies the story in my mind. I do typically end up having to revise these chapters pretty heavily later on as the plot develops, but the characters come alive in my mind through the process of writing.
  • Proposal: When the 3 chapters are finished, I put the proposal together. The hardest part is the synopsis, of course. This might take me a couple of weeks. I also do a thorough market comparison, which usually isn’t too hard since I keep a very close eye on new books in my genres. I send the proposal off to my agent and wait impatiently to hear back. (That’s the hard part!)
  • First Draft: When my agent calls with the good news that I have a contract J, I get busy writing the first draft. I typically have a problem about 2/3 of the way through my first drafts when I decide this is the worst book anyone has ever written, and I’m tired of the characters and the story, and if I don’t even like my heroine how in the world can I expect anyone else to like her? But I keep going, and I always come out of it.
  • Revision 1: I am a firm believer in critique partners. I ship my first draft off to a CP or two, and while they’re reading it, I read the whole thing from start to finish, revising as I go.
  • Revision 2: When my CPs return their comments, I go over every one and decide whether or not to apply it. I’ve developed a good relationship with my CPs, and I trust them, so I usually apply most of their suggestions.
  • Submission: After I’ve gone over the thing a couple of times, I send it in. Then the editorial process begins!

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

My editor for the Sister-to-Sister Series is so good! She points out everything from awkward phrasing to motivation problems to structure issues. I had to trim 2000 words out of Stuck in the Middle, and she identified several scenes that could be combined with others to reduce the word count.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

The second book in the Sister-to-Sister Series is written, and I’m really excited about it. Age before Beauty features the oldest Sanderson sister, and she is such a fun character. Next I have to write the final book in the series, Last but Not Least. I’m eager to dive into that one, because I’ve got some terrific curves to throw at the youngest sister!

In addition to those, I’ve got a romantic suspense series coming out from Steeple Hill beginning in October. Only the first book is written, so I have 2 more to write over the next few months.

Finally, would you discuss Stuck in the Middle? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

The idea for Stuck in the Middle came straight from my own life—my relationship with my sisters. They are amazing women—fun and energetic and creative and lively. I wanted to write a book that relays the depth of our feelings for each other, and that lets readers get a peek of just how much fun we have together. And of course it seemed natural to expand the first book into a series, with each sister having her own starring role.

The struggles that Joan faces in Stuck have a basis in my own life, even though I am the oldest sister in my family. Joan is striving to overcome her flawed relationship with her absent father while building lasting relationships of her own. And many of my recent experiences, such as the agonizing task of finding an assisted living center for my father-in-law, found a place in the story. But it’s funny that both of my sisters say they feel a kinship with all of the Sanderson sisters. So there isn’t a solid model for any of the characters. Instead, they all contain pieces of each of us, plus a lot of their own unique personalities as well.

I did have to do quite a bit of medical research, since the hunky hero in this book is an emergency room doctor—something I knew nothing about! Thank goodness for fellow writers Ronda Wells M.D. and Crystal Laine Miller. They provided a wealth of information. And Joan’s grandmother in Stuck has a touch of OCD, so that research was fun. All kinds of people told me about their quirky compulsive habits, and I really enjoyed that.

Thank you so much, Ginny! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

You’re so welcome! I enjoyed chatting with you, and appreciate the opportunity to talk about my book!

Ginny and her publisher are having a contest: the prize is $500 shopping spree. Check it out on her Web site.

Daily Bible reading:
Saturday, March 1—Exodus 29–30; James 1
Sunday, March 2—Exodus 31–33; James 2
Monday, March 3—Exodus 34–35; James 3

Thursday, February 28, 2008


“Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.” Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 12:4–6 NASB

These verses were in my hymn devotional today. And knowing the truth of praising God even in the midst of being pressed on every side, I did thank Him in my prayer journal and as I sang the hymn that went along with it. (I really love the old hymns because of the depth of truth and doctrine in the words! Not to say that today’s Christian songs don’t have the same, many do, but they usually touch me on a different level.)

“Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

Sing praise to God Who reigns above, the God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love, the God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled and every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

What God’s almighty power hath made His gracious mercy keepeth,
By morning glow or evening shade His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of His might, Lo! all is just and all is right:
To God all praise and glory.

The Lord is never far away, but through all grief distressing,
An ever present help and stay, our peace and joy and blessing.
As with a mother’s tender hand, God gently leads the chosen band:
To God all praise and glory.

Thus, all my toilsome way along, I sing aloud Thy praises,
That earth may hear the grateful song my voice unwearied raises.
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart, both soul and body bear your part:
To God all praise and glory.

Let all who name Christ’s holy Name give God all praise and glory;
Let all who own His power proclaim aloud the wondrous story!
Cast each false idol from its throne, for Christ is Lord, and Christ alone:
To God all praise and glory.

I went to bed last night, late, discouraged, really feeling the pressure of deadlines and the challenge of an editing project that I expected to be challenging but was proving to be more difficult than I had planned on. Plus a meeting I had after our Wednesday evening Bible study went until 9:45. (It was a good meeting, longer than usual because it had been delayed by two weeks and we had lots to discuss.)

I also wrote an e-mail to the editor who was expecting to see this project on Monday, telling her I would have half the assignment completed by then, but not the other half. I’ve been praying all week about this as I worked, knowing that in myself the work was stretching my abilities and that I couldn’t do it alone.

So this morning, I knew when I woke that I needed to praise God just for who He is.

And when I came downstairs to get breakfast I quickly checked my e-mail to see if there was anything I needed to deal with right away. My editor had responded, telling me not to worry, I could have two extra weeks! Wow! I didn’t expect that at all, but yes, I took them. *Smile*

God is so good!

Daily Bible reading: Thursday, February 28—Exodus 27–28; Philemon
Friday, February 29—free reading day J

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pressed on Every Side

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 CORINTHIANS 4:810 NLT

These verses pretty much sum up how I feel these days. Pressed on every side; perplexed, not sure which direction I’m to go, what project to focus on; hunted down by the enemy, even when I think I’m flying under the radar; knocked down, dreams and plans changed or broken.

But in it all I sense God’s peace and love. I see His grace in that I’m not crushed or broken. Hope is ever present, so I don’t give up or quit, though I’m tempted to. God’s faithfulness and mercies are new every morning when He shows me each day that He’s not abandoned me yet. And when I fall, He’s there to pick me up, to carry me until I learn to stand on Him and His promises.

Suffering seems to be the theme of many of friends’ lives these days. And mine. Yet in this passage Paul reminds us that it is through suffering that we share in Christ’s death and resurrection so that His life may be reflected in us. Good comes from pain; purity comes from the fire. God allows the enemy to sift us, to bring suffering to us to separate the good from the bad, and He prays for us as we go through the sifting, as He did for Peter, that when we have gone through the testing we will be able to encourage others and lift them up.

Today in my hymn history devotional, I read about the author of the words of “Day by Day.” Lina was the daughter of Jonas Sandell, pastor of the Lutheran church in Fröderyd, Sweden. At age 26, she accompanied her father on a boat trip across Lake Vättern to Göteborg, during which he fell overboard and drowned before her eyes. The tragedy profoundly affected Lina and she wrote this hymn shortly after this tragedy. Known as the Fanny Crosby of Sweden, she wrote 650 hymns. She married Stockholm merchant C. O. Berg in 1867, but continued to initial her hymns “L. S.”

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

God is very good!

Daily Bible reading: Wednesday, February 27—Exodus 25–26; 2 Thessalonians 3

Monday, February 25, 2008

Parallel Construction, 4

Today we will finish our discussion on parallel construction.

*Go to the “Options” menu to change the display colors, fonts, type size, set predefined breaks in your program or open the dictionary.
The verb to change only fits the first three items in this series. Since the infinitive form is used, the next two verbs need to have the infinitive as well. And because of the commas in the series, we’ll need to separate the three verb phrases with semicolons—an acceptable use of semicolons to avoid confusion. Go to the “Options menu to change the display colors, fonts, type size; to set predefined breaks in your program; or to open the dictionary.

Customers may either pick up the merchandise themselves, or the company will deliver it for a small fee.
The word either refers to the customer, implying a choice. But only one choice is given since the subject changes to the company in the second part of the sentence. When using either/or you can check parallelism by using only the second part of the sentence: Customers may either the company will deliver it for a small fee. Okay, that doesn’t make sense *smile*, so let’s try a couple of different options for correcting the problem: Customers may either pick up the merchandise themselves or have it delivered for a small fee. OR Either customers may pick up the merchandise themselves, or the company will deliver it for a small fee.

He not only shoveled the walkway, but also the stairs and balcony.
This is a very common mistake I see often in editing or correcting high school English essays (which I don’t do anymore. *smile*). The contrasted items that come after not only have to be parallel or we end up with this kind of awkward construction. When you put not only before the verb it sets the reader up for another action (i.e. He not only shoveled the walkway, but also salted it.) When the not only/but also combination is used, put not only before the first of the items being contrasted. So if you’re contrasting two actions, put not only before the first action, but also before the second (see example above); if there’s only one action but two objects, put the not only before the first object, but also before the second. He shoveled not only the walkway, but also the stairs and balcony.

The bankruptcy proceedings involved accountants, litigation experts, tax and corporate lawyers.
The word tax is left hanging here. It does describe the type of lawyer used in this bankruptcy proceeding. Grammatically the sentence would read: The bankruptcy proceedings involved accountants, litigation experts, and tax. Okay, that obviously doesn’t work. Yes, we would ordinarily say tax and corporate lawyers if those are the only people being referred to. But since that is not the case in this sentence and the and implies the last element of a series is corporate lawyers, we’ve got to rewrite this sentence. Try either: The bankruptcy proceedings involved accountants, litigation experts, tax lawyers, and corporate lawyers. OR The bankruptcy proceedings involved accountants, litigation experts, and tax and corporate lawyers.

The stocky and self-confessed plagiarist showed no emotion as the charges against him were read out in court.
Okay, the explanation as to why this isn’t parallel is way out there, even for me! So here’s what the author gives as an explanation: “The adjectives stocky and self-confessed are not equivalent. Stocky can stand alone: A person can simple be described as stocky, the way he or she can be described as dark haired, athletic, grouchy, left-handed, etc. But one cannot be simply “self-confessed”: By definition, one has to be a self-confessed something—a drug dealer, an adulterer, a chocoholic. Self-confessed is thus tied to the noun that follows, and the string self-confessed plagiarist effectively become a unit, leaving stocky without anything to latch onto. Grammatically, it is as if the sentence read The stocky and plagiarist showed no emotion, which clearly doesn’t work. Removal of the and solves the problem, since stocky then becomes a modifier of the unit self-confessed plagiarist.” (But don’t put a comma between stocky and self-confessed in the string of adjectives because that would create the same problem. The "need" to put a comma in there is what tripped me up on this sentence.) So here is the corrected version: The stocky self-confessed plagiarist showed no emotion as the charges against him were read out in court.

The text editing program enables you to do the following:
—change the background color of your screen
—to select different fonts
—cutting and pasting text
—creation of complex layouts.
The items in a list must be written the same way to be parallel. Also since each element must mesh with the lead-in. Each element with the lead-in must form a coherent sentence. So try the following:
The text editing program enables you to do the following:
—change the background color of your screen
—select different fonts
—cut and paste text
—create complex layouts.

(*I’m taking these examples from Grammatically Correct by Anne Stillman.)

I hope that this presentation of parallel construction helps you create better sentences that read smoothly and give the right meaning to your readers.

If you have a suggestion for another grammar topic for me to cover, please leave a comment.

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday, February 26—Exodus 23–24; 2 Thessalonians 2

Friday, February 22, 2008

God's Love

“With unfailing love you lead this people whom you have ransomed.”
Exodus 15:13

Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Psalm 32:8–10

The Lord delights to give us small nuggets of truth when we seek Him through Scripture. And these were two nuggets He gave me this morning. More and more I’m seeing how much He loves us—not only in general but also individually.

In the past I’ve often struggled with the concept that He loves me in spite of my many, many failings. After a particularly rough time last summer, He set out to confirm His awesome love through many circumstances and people He has brought my way.

Before Christmas I once again was overwhelmed when I thought of the love had for His creation when He sent His only Son, Jesus, as a baby to pay the ransom for the sin of mankind—past, present, future, i.e. for my sin. The songs we sang in our church’s Christmas concert were so amazing, the words burned themselves into my soul.

And now He’s doing it again through the music we are preparing for Easter. One of the songs He’s using to prepare me for the Easter music is “How Can It Be?” to which John W. Peterson wrote the music in 1961. Avis B. Christiansen wrote the words.

O Savior, as my eyes behold
The wonders of They might untold,
The heav’ns in glorious light arrayed,
The vast creation Thou hast made—
And yet to think Thou lovest me—
My heart cries out,
“How can it be?”

How can it be?
How can it be?
That God should love a soul like me,
O how can it be?

As at the cross I humbly bow
And gaze upon Thy thorn-crowned brow;
And view the precious bleeding form
By cruel nails so bruised and torn,
To know Thy suff’ring was for me,
In grief I cry,
“How can it be?”


How can it be? How can it be?
Was ever grace so full and free!
From heights of bliss to depths of woe
In loving kindness Thou didst go,
From sin and shame to rescue me—
O Love Divine,
How can it be?


For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB, emphasis mine)

Have a blessed weekend!

Daily Bible reading: Saturday—Exodus 16–18; 1 Thessalonians 4
Sunday—Exodus 19–20; 1 Thessalonians 5
Monday—Exodus 21–22; 2 Thessalonians 1

Thursday, February 21, 2008


My faith journey right now is riddled with interruptions. Aren’t they great? LOL Okay, they are frustrating—at least to me.

Knowing the importance of time management to productivity, I’ve attempted to put myself on a schedule this year. My husband gave me a Palm Pilot for Christmas in order to help me with this goal. Each Sunday evening I’ve faithfully entered the tasks and schedule for the upcoming workweek. And at times it works!

I’m beginning to wonder if I should just enter large blocks of time to accommodate the interruptions. I’m fully aware that the word the Lord gave me this year is “continual guidance.” And I think that’s why the interruptions.

It’s not that I mind some of the interruptions. After all, anytime my daughter calls from London, I’m going to talk to her, without complaint. The same with my son doing a pastoral internship in California. And of course the same goes for my husband. My family comes first.

Which is why the latest interruption that has thrown my schedule all off coarse today doesn’t bother me. Late yesterday afternoon, we heard from our son who was returning from a camp conference in northwest Louisiana. He was with a group of six people from our church-owned camp (Camp Eden, Golden). They had flown into Dallas and rented a car to drive to the camp in Louisiana. On the way back to Dallas, they had to negotiate around a major accident, and as a result, they missed their flight to Denver. Which made Randy miss his flight on to Sacramento last night. They were able to make the last flight from Dallas to Denver on stand-by. By then Randy’s flight was long gone. So we got to have him one more night.

That’s not the interruption (though it was for Randy!). Last night, while we were discussing when Randy needed to be back at DIA, I told him to talk to his dad because he would be the one to take him. NOT! It was too late to arrange for someone else to arrive at the construction job early to open the building for the earlybird construction workers. So . . . Mom’s schedule got interrupted big-time. But you know what? We had a great discussion on the way to the airport, something we wouldn’t probably have done over the phone. So while my morning has gotten rearranged, it’s okay.

I’m finally learning to take all the interruptions and unexpected responsibilities as God’s way of reminding that He’s in total control of my schedule. While I seek His direction when I’m entering my schedule for the week, accepting or rejecting editing/proofreading projects (and I hate to say no, but I had to this week already), or considering other demands on my time, I know that the schedule could change radically before the end of the week.

It’s all part of the Lord asking me to walk blind with my hand firmly held in His while I learn to completely trust His leading. He allows the interruptions because He loves me and He knows what’s best for me. It’s all part of the journey.

But there are still times I allow myself to get overwhelmed by what I perceive are interruptions that complicate and make impossible to do the work I have . . . until the Lord reminds me we are His schedule and time, not mine.

God is good!

Daily Bible reading: Friday—Exodus 14–15; 1 Thessalonians 3

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adam by Ted Dekker

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Thomas Nelson April 1, 2008)

Ted Dekker


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.


He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psche.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."

New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Margie's comments: This is another book I was privileged to see ahead of time (i.e. proofread). In my opinion, Adam is one of the best supernatural thrillers he's written so far. However, the genre is not my favorite, even though I do like suspense and mystery in general. As is usual with any proofreading/editing project I work on, the Lord used the story to further my knowledge and experience of Him. And this book was no exception. Spiritual warfare is very real, not only in third-world countries (I, too, am a child of missionaries; in my case, Central and South America and Mexico), but here in the United States. We may delude ourselves that in this country we're safe from such warfare, but that is not true. And believers must be prepared, as it is only going to get more blatant before the Lord returns. If you love an excellently crafted and told story, I highly recommend Adam to you.

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday—Exodus 7–8; Mark 16
Wednesday—Exodus 9–11; 1 Thessalonians 1
Thursday—Exodus 12–13; 1 Thessalonians 2

Monday, February 18, 2008


I'm not taking the day off for President's Day. I have a proofreading project due on an editor's desk tomorrow. Good thing I don't have to rely on USPS to deliver it. UPS is still delivering today.

Several things have come to my attention this past weekend. First off, late Saturday I got a notice from the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance that Mike Snyder's brother went home to be with the Lord Saturday. Mike is the author I featured on Friday. So please be in prayer for that family right now. His brother left behind a wife and three daughters.

On Friday I got news of a good friend from my early married/parenting days who has colon cancer, just discovered last week. The more tests they run, the worse it sounds. She may be having surgery today to remove a good portion of her colon (three large masses are blocking her colon). But the cancer has already metastasized and is affecting her liver, lymph nodes, and possibly even her lungs. The doctor's have said they cannot beat this. But Sally and Scott are continuing strong in their faith, believing God is totally in control. Please pray for this family as well. They have four adult children.

Saturday we went snowshoeing into our cabin—about three miles round-trip. Lots of snow; had to dig out the deck to get into the cabin. Several of the college and career young people went on up to Lost Lake—another three miles round trip. Roger and I stayed at the cabin. It was a good day.

Saturday evening Randy flew in from Sacramento to help with our camp's Skifest for over 200 teens last evening and today. So he spent the night with us. We got to see him for a few hours. From camp he flies to a camp conference in Arkansas with others who will have a leadership role in our summer camps. There isn't time to visit with him more before he heads back to Sacramento on Wednesday. He just set up a personal blog many of you readers might enjoy: One Thing.

Kathy continues to settle in to her work and flat and life in London. If you're interested you can follow her adventures at her blog: Life in London.

So life continues to be busy, challenging . . . and satisfying. God is good!

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 4–6; Mark 15:26–47

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Name Is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

My Name is Russell Fink

Zondervan (March 1, 2008)


Michael Snyder


Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.


Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

Margie's comments: I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, though I had read a few reviews ahead of time. This book has several laugh-out-loud scenes. The characters are indeed quirky and fun. It's hard to place this into any one genre, but the idea kept coming to me that this was very much in the tone of chick-lit . . . only the main character is a guy! Can there be such a thing as guy-lit? I mean, it's written in first person, present tense, it's a romance, and it's full of biblical truth. Truly, after the first few chapters I was hooked. I had to read more to find out what happens. And yes, it deals with some pretty tough issues surrounding forgiveness and faith. And it was great to read a romance from a guy's point of view. A very satisfying read, even though I'd never read anything quite like it before. *grin*

Daily Bible reading:
Friday: Isaiah 62–64; Mark 14:27–53
Saturday: Isaiah 65–66; Mark 14:54–72
Sunday: Exodus 1–3; Mark 15:1–25

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Blogspot has been uncooperative today, the reason I'm late getting this posted.

My aunt Carol sent this to me today, speaking of the Lover of our souls:

For God so loVed the world,
That He gAve

His onLy



hat whosoever

Believeth In Him
Not perish,

But have Everlasting life.

John 3:16

A great old hymn of the faith came to me again today. It was one of the hymn histories I read earlier this week.

Charles Wesley was preach­ing in the fields of the par­ish of Killy­leagh, Coun­ty Down, Ire­land, when he was at­tacked by men who did not ap­prove of his doc­trines. He sought re­fuge in a house lo­cat­ed on what was known as the Is­land Barn Farm. The far­mer’s wife, Jane Low­rie Moore, told him to hide in the milk­house, down in the gar­den. Soon the mob came and de­mand­ed the fu­gi­tive. She tried to qui­et them by of­fer­ing them re­fresh­ments. Go­ing down to the milk­house, she di­rect­ed Mr. Wesley to get through the rear win­dow and hide un­der the hedge, by which ran a lit­tle brook. In that hid­ing-place, with the cries of his pur­su­ers all about him, he wrote this im­mor­tal hymn. De­scend­ants of Mrs. Moore still live in the house, which is much the same as it was in Wes­ley’s time.

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul"

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

One more thought: I'm proofreading Denise Hunter's newest book from Thomas Nelson, The Convenient Bridegroom. What a beautiful picture of God's love she has woven into this story. It releases in April, the second in her Nantucket Island series. I featured her first book in this series, Surrender Bay, here. This is a must-read for those who may be struggling with the realization that God loves each one of us with an everlasting love—unconditionally, unreservedly, and unrestrainedly. Oh, how I needed this read right now. It shouldn't, but I'm constantly amazed at how God orchestrates the proofreading projects I'm asked to take. Wow! God is soooo good!

Daily Bible reading:
Isaiah 59–61; Mark 14:1–27

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Busy Day

While I don't have any specific deadlines this week, I do have several next week. So I'm working "ahead" a little. Well, at least in theory anyway. *smile* We'll feature another book on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance tour on Friday. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.

So now to work!

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 56–58; Mark 14:1–27

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Healing Stones by Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Healing Stones

(Thomas Nelson January 1, 2008)


Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue


Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio...

By 1996 Nancy was a full-time writer. The Christian Heritage Series made that possible. She was writing those books from the early 1990's until 2000.

And then a new opportunity came along--the Lily series. If she ever doubted that she was going to make it as a writer, man, that little red-head put those fears to rest! And, of course, Sophie followed Lily, with some teen and grown-up books in between -- plus the non-fiction books designed just for you.

Nancy and her husband live in Tennessee now, overlooking a beautiful lake, lots of sycamore trees, and the rocky Tennessee hills. They have a bright yellow power boat named BANANA SPLIT which you can find us on no matter what the weather. Marijean and her husband live nearby with my three grand-dogs and three grand-cats (and two grand-snakes . . .)


With one flash of a camera, Demi's private life becomes public news. She doesn't know it yet, but her healing has just begun.

Christian college professor Demitria Costanas had vowed to end her affair with a colleague. But she gives into temptation one last time...and a lurking photographer captures her weakness for all to see. Quite literally, she's the woman caught in adultery. And almost everyone--herself included--has a stone to throw.

Enter Sullivan Crisp, a decidedly unorthodox psychologist with his own baggage. He's well-known for his quirky sense of humor and incorporation of "game show" theology into his counseling sessions. And yet there's something more he offers...hope for a fresh start.

Reluctantly the two of them begin an uplifting, uneven journey filled with healing and grace. By turns funny and touching, this story explores the ways humans hurt each other and deceive themselves. And it shows the endlessly creative means God uses to turn stones of accusation and shame into works of beauty that lead us onto the path of healing.

An auspicious debut for a candid yet tender series about pain, healing, and God's invitation for second chances.

Margie's comments: When Nancy Rue's name is on a book, you know you're in for a good read. (Okay, so I'm a little prejudiced, since I've been a part of the Nangie (Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue)clinics and Nangie U the last several years at the Colorado and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers conferences. *smile*) This book deals with a tough subject with tenderness, sensitivity, and grace—God's grace. Even if you don't find yourself in Demetria's or Sullivan's circumstances, everyone will benefit spiritually from the lessons learned in this book.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 53–55; Mark 13:1–20

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's a Historical Scavenger Hunt!

Today I'm participating in a historical scavenger hunt, spotlighting historicals that are set on other continents than North America.

Playing is easy. Get the list of clues at Then visit the links below to learn about the authors and their books—you’ll find the answers to the clues in the Q&A posted there! Once you have all 18 answers, send an email to to be entered to win:

Six autographed books!

A Whisper of Freedom by Tricia Goyer
The Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen
A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman
The Sovereign’s Daughter by Susan K. Downs & Susan May Warren
The Rogue’s Redemption by Ruth Axtell Morren
On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang

Visit these sites for the clues!

Have fun!

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 50–52; Mark 12:29–44

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lethal Deception by Lynette Eason

Today we welcome debut author Lynette Eason to The Writer's Tool.

Her romantic suspense, Lethal Deception, was released this month from Steeple Hill. I stayed up late (again) last night, finishing this book. But it kept me awake long after I went to bed—no bad dreams, though. *smile* Lethal Deception is a wonderfully written suspense, with huge tension from page one right through to the end. The romance between Gabe and Cassidy is great, too. What truly kept me awake last night was the spiritual thread throughout the book that specifically spoke to me in my spiritual walk right now.

Here's the back cover copy for Lethal Deception: Having rescued Cassidy McKnight from kidnappers in South America, Gabe Sinclair thought his job was done. Not that the former Navy SEAL could ever forget the brave, beautiful single mother. But when the danger followed her home, Gabe promised to protect her. Why anyone would want to kill Cassidy was a mystery. Was the motive related to the orphaned toddler Cassidy was raising, a sweet little girl who brought out the father figure in mavericak Gabe? Or did a newly revealed family secret have killer consequences?

Lynette joins us today for an interview.

Hi Marjorie, thanks so much for having me on your blog. It’s so neat to meet people this way!

We are very glad to have you. How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

I’ve always loved the printed word and had always made A’s in English, so writing seemed to come natural to me from the time I was old enough to pick up a pencil and actually put words on the paper.

How do you balance family life with writing?

Well, I don’t know that I’m always successful at it. I homeschool so needless to say, I get plenty of time with my children, so when they are busy after lunch, I don’t feel the least bit guilty getting on the computer and writing at that point. Of course, everyday doesn’t always go smooth, but I do the best I can. I also write a lot at night when everyone is in the bed.

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing?

It makes me want to write things that He’ll be proud of. I don’t ever want to put a word on paper that would make Him unhappy, therefore I ask Him to use me to write HIS story. And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule? Again, sometimes I’m not very good at it. I do a lot of praying in my car…ha. I try to have a quiet time every day, but sometimes the day gets away from me before I’ve had time to sit down and do some sort of Bible study. But I don’t think God holds that against me. He knows me. He knows my personality. He loves me and He knows I love Him. We have an understanding. *smile*

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Oh boy. This is kind of a hard question for me. I’ll get a little smidge of an idea from something and then I’ll have to place my character in the midst of that idea and see what happens. But before I can really develop the story, I HAVE to do a character sketch. I use Randy Ingermanson’s layout. It’s the only one I’ve found that works for me and lets me get to know my characters. Once I’ve got the characters down, I move on to the synopsis. At this point, it’s not really a synopsis, it’s a brainstorm page…or 10. Once I have all that down, I can start writing Chapter 1. Usually the synopsis/story changes as I write it, but at least the synopsis helps keep me on track, and I know I have to get to the next scene. Before I was published, I would edit the synopsis as I wrote because I knew when I submitted the manuscript, I’d have to submit a synopsis, too. So, using this method, when the manuscript was finished I had a “matching” synopsis to go along with it to submit. As far as revision, I find that I really write a pretty clean first draft. And that’s simply because I catch a lot of mistakes as I go. I’m not one to waste time on constant editing. I write, editing as I go to some extent. When I finish the manuscript, I print it off and read it out loud to myself…and anyone who is unfortunate enough to be within earshot. At this point, I generally send a copy to my critique partner. As I read it aloud, I find mistakes, holes in the plot, things I need to address, etc. I make note of those on the printed version, then change them on the computer, print it out again, read through it again, see if I missed anything, fix it if I did, then send the thing off to my editor.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

Um…everything?? No, not quite, but sometimes it feels like it. On LETHAL DECEPTION, I had to cut out about 30,000 words to fit the Suspense line. That meant a whole lot of chopping up the book. I had to get rid of one character’s POV entirely. The second book didn’t have QUITE as many revisions, but editors look at character motivation very closely. At least mine does. So, I had to work on that a little bit. For example, it wasn’t clear exactly why my heroine in the second book went to Brazil, so I had to clean that up. I didn’t have enough suspense in this second book, so I needed to add a few scenes, a little more character introspection, etc. And I have to admit, the book is better once I follow the suggestions of my editor. I work with Emily Rodmell and I have nothing but the highest of praise for her. She’s awesome.

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

I have tons of stories running around in my head. I just can’t type fast enough! Right now, my agent is shopping around thriller/suspense story for me. It’s different than what I’m doing with Steeple Hill. The story is more suspense/thriller/action than romance, although there is a thread of romance throughout each story. I also have a story about missionaries in the Middle East that I would like to see come about. But I’ve got my hands full right now. Especially, if this other series sells. We’ll see. Oh! And I just sold my fourth book to Steeple Hill that will be out in March of 2009. It’s about a residential deaf school where a lot of action takes place…*smile*

Finally, would you discuss Lethal Deception? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

LETHAL DECEPTION. That was a fun story to write, edit, revise, etc. Honestly, though, by the time the AA’s arrived, I was sick of it. I understand now why some authors actually shudder when you ask if they’ve read the story in final book form. Maybe one day. Anyway, I was sitting in the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) thinking what a jungle the place was when all of a sudden I just had characters popping into my brain, a story gelling, and voila…by the time they called my number, I had written the first chapter. I did a lot of research on the Amazon Jungle, read some fictional accounts with characters in the jungle, read nonfiction, etc. and just came up with the story. It’s just really hard to explain where my ideas come from. I guess I have to give God credit for that.

Thank you so much, Lynette! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

To buy the book:

If you're a romantic suspense fan, but you're not a member of Steeple Hill's Love Inspired Suspense line book club, go here:;jsessionid=85DB21F98A2D63E8A46233C459CD72BA?iid=10791

Daily Bible reading:
Friday: Isaiah 43–44; Mark 11:1–18
Saturday: Isaiah 45–46; Mark 11:19–33
Sunday: Isaiah 47–49; Mark 12:1–27

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Parallel Construction, 3

For the preliminary discussion and examples on this topic, please go to these links: and

Quick review: Faulty parallelism is a clumsy sentence or paragraph that doesn’t mesh with the words, phrases, or sentences around it. Grammatically the writer is jumping from one type of construction to another.

We’ve already looked at several examples of faulty construction and the reasons they were faulty. Let’s look at a few more today*:

The consultant objected to the proposal, saying that the costs would be exorbitant and because the training facilities were insufficient.

Simple fix: The word because is the problem here. It doesn’t match the first clause beginning with that. The sentence can be reworded in two ways: The consultant objected to the proposal, saying that the costs would be exorbitant and that the training facilities were insufficient. Or The consultant objected to the proposal, saying that the costs would be exorbitant and the training facilities were insufficient. (The second that is inferred and therefore not necessary, so the second sentence is preferred.)

It may be necessary to either add or subtract items from this list.

Add needs a different preposition following it. We can’t add from a list, but we can add to it. So . . . It may be necessary to either add to or subtract items from this list.

Courses are offered in spring, summer, and in fall.

The same preposition works for all three seasons: in spring, in summer, and in fall. So either add it to all the elements in the series, or use it once at the beginning of the series: in spring, summer, and fall. The second way is preferred for tighter writing. *smile*

The revised plan called for lower salaries, operating budgets, and longer hours.

Here’s another sentence that can be fixed in one of two ways. The way the sentence is now, it’s hard to tell if the adjective lower is also referring to the operating budgets or not, since hours has a different adjective. Two ways to fix the sentence with lower as the adjective for the first two elements: The revised plan called for lower salaries, operating budgets, and longer hours. Or The revised plan called for lower salaries and operating budgets, and longer hours.

However if another adjective is meant, then try revising this sentence like this: The revised plan called for lower salaries, better operating budgets, and longer hours.

Writers who work on a freelance basis don’t get steady paychecks, but one has the advantage of extra tax breaks.

The nouns in this sentence aren’t parallel: plural writers to singular one. Try: Writers who work on a freelance basis don’t get steady paychecks, but they have the advantage of extra tax breaks. Or As a freelance writer, one doesn’t get steady paychecks, but one has the advantage of extra tax breaks.

Participants should sign in by noon and pick up your registration materials at the front desk.

This sentence switches from third person point of view to second person. So change it so both portions use the same POV. Participants should sign in by noon and pick up their registration materials at the front desk. Or Sign in by noon and pick up your registration materials at the front desk.

*I’m taking these examples from Grammatically Correct by Anne Stillman.

I’ll have six more examples and explanations to finish up our discussion one day next week.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 41–42; Mark 10:32–52

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sister's Ink

Broadman & Holman Books (February 1, 2008)


Rebeca Seitz


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING was her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair.

Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.

Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.


"What more can any woman want? Sisters, Ink weaves the love of sisters, the fun of scrapbooking, and a romance as sugary and tingling as Sweet Home Alabama. A must read for those who love southern fiction."--DiAnn Mills, author of Leather and Lace and When the Nile Runs Red

"Fun . . . funny . . . fantastic! Rebeca Seitz has brought together scrapbooking and sisterhood in a lively romp, with a love for going home again."--Eva Marie Everson, coauthor of The Potluck Club series.

Margie's Comments: I finished reading Sisters, Ink late last night. (It was well worth the loss of sleep. *grin*) It is a fun book with a serious message. The relationship between the sisters, their father, and especially Tandy's high school boyfriend, Clay, are very fun. I'm not a scrapbooker, though I have done some when my own sister group (my sister and sister-in-law) put together a scrapbook for our mom's 70th birthday. But I do enjoy the enthusiasm and fun that is shared with those who do scrapbook. And that's one of the things I enjoyed about this book—hard lessons learned and life questions dealt with around the scrapping table.

Interview with Rebeca:

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

I’ve written stories since I was 8 years old. My first novel was with Thomas Nelson Publishers, where I’d worked as the publicist for the fiction division for a year. After leaving TN and opening Glass Road Public Relations, the editor called me up with the idea to write a story for scrapbookers. She asked if I thought I could do that and, by the time I got home from our meeting, I had two characters already in my head!
As for where the journey has taken me—um, to insanity? Ha ha! Seriously, this journey is so much fun and something I don’t deserve. I’ve gotten to meet extraordinary people along the way—other authors, editors (Karen Ball! David Webb!), bloggers, newspaper reporters—tons of folks that have enriched and blessed my life.

How do you balance family life with writing?

I married an amazing man. *smile* Charlie is the secret to the madness around here. For example, I’ve been up since a little after 6 this morning. While I actually took the time to do a load of laundry, put on his coffee, dress our toddler, and make breakfast before landing in front of the laptop, the rest of the day I’ll be chained to my desk. He knows that, which is why he came up here fifteen minutes ago with a plate bearing Mexican food and brownie and a glass full of Diet Mt Dew. He sat it down and walked away while I yammered on the phone with a client. Before that, he took our kiddo to preschool, did the grocery shopping, got the dog's and cat's food at the tractor supply place, ran by the post office, and picked up a CD at church that our music minister wants me to listen to. Charlie’s good at keeping the ball rolling forward so I don’t have to stop and pick it up. *smile*

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

This is where I’m supposed to write what a fantastic Christian I am—how I wake up at 5am and spend an hour reading Scripture before starting my day. You know, I wish I could say that with honesty. But I can’t. My walk with the Lord is such an integral part of me—it is me. It’s not a section that I take care of in the morning for an hour and then go about my day. (Though I know most morning Bible studiers don’t put it down in an hour and forget about it.) It’s a minute-by-minute reliance on His presence and direction. In some periods of my life, I’m involved in an in-depth Bible study like I’m about to start with Beth Moore’s Daniel (my second time through). While I’m in that study, I will spend an hour a day deep in Scripture and study. God uses those scripturally-rich periods of my life to ground me in His word. I hide those words in my heart and meditate on them throughout my days and nights.

When I’m not involved in a specific Bible study, I tend to spend more time in ongoing prayer than scripture reading. I’ll pray before calling a client (for patience, wisdom—depends on the client), before writing a scene (for insight, ability), during the shower (for a miraculous extra hour to my morning—ha!), driving down the road (that should be a comfort to those who see me talking on the phone while driving!), shoot, even right now (for a great answer to this question!). I hold His hand all day and all night and wake up the next morning with His hand still holding to mine. When I let go and act like an idiot, the void of His presence is painful enough to pull me back. *smile*

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Sure! Though I should warn your readers that my writing process requires gallons of caffeine. Ha ha! Because I also own two businesses, direct the women’s ministry at my church, mommy a two-year-old, love a 32-year-old husband, renovate a 100+year-old house, and the myriad other things that most women have some form of, I don’t get to write every day. Instead, I write in large chunks. On Friday or Saturday, I pack up the laptop and head to one of the libraries near my house – either the University of Tennessee at Martin (my alma mater) or the Union City Public Library (a new and gorgeous structure). I plug in the laptop, leave the wireless card turned off, put in my iPod earbuds, and start writing. By the end of the day, I’ll have 10,000-16,000 pretty good words. I do that for enough days and I have a whole novel. I edit a little along the way, but not much. Mostly I re-read the last few pages of what I wrote the session before, tweak it, and then keep writing.
When it’s finished, I go back and read it again, changing, tweaking, refining, etc. Then I send it to Karen Ball—editor extraordinaire!—to get hacked to death.

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

I usually have to lengthen scenes so that the ending to a scene has more punch. I also have to go back and do rewrites that keep the reader in the character’s head. For example, rather than, “She hated how he looked at her,” I should write “Kendra shivered and rubbed the gooseflesh on her arms. That look of his is pure evil.”

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

The second book in the Sisters, Ink series is Coming Unglued and will be in stores in August. Book three, Scrapping Plans will be in stores in early 2009 and book four will release six months after that.

Finally, would you discuss Sisters, Ink? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

The idea of Sisters, Ink the business is to network scrapbookers at the local level. That way, when a woman takes up scrapping as a hobby or is already a scrapper and moves into a new area, she can find other girls with whom she can scrap! Online friends are great—I’m blessed with several!—but in-person scrapping with girlfriends means a lot in my life. I wanted to equip other women to form friendships and enrich their lives over the scrapping table as well.

I also wanted to get back to the personalization of scrapbooking. The industry exploded in growth, and we lost a little bit of the individuality along the way. Suddenly, a gagillion companies were creating papers and embellishments and tools that all looked eerily similar. By getting back down to the person-by-person level, we take back the hobby as a way to express ourselves individually.

You can find out all about Sisters, Ink—the books and the network—at . *smile*

Thank you so much, Rebeca! We appreciate your time and the opportunity to spotlight your work.

Daily Bible reading:
Tuesday: Isaiah 37–38; Mark 9:30–50
Wednesday: Isaiah 39–40; Mark 10:1–31

Parallelism again tomorrow. I promise! Totally spaced yesterday's blogging. Sigh.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, February 4, 2008

This and That

Where does the time go? It's February already.

And it's snowing . . . again. Of course, we've not had as much snow as the mountains have, but several times since right before Christmas and the first of January, the weather "forecaasters" were telling us that we were getting all our snow/precipitation before Christmas, so to enjoy it. Well, . . . It's February 4, and the snowpack in the mountains is 128% of the average for this time of year. Yeah, we're going back into a drought and suffering from global warming!

Wednesday we were told to expect less than an inch of snow, starting at 11:00 a.m. Okay. At 11:00 the sun was still shining out of large patches of blue sky. But . . . by 5:30 p.m. it was snowing—hard. In about three hours we got 5–6 inches of new snow, snarling traffic and causing major problems into the next day. Maybe they'll redeem themselves today. We're supposed to get "about an inch," and if it keeps snowing the way it is now, they'll be right. It's a very lazy, flurrying type of snow right now. But we'll see.

Trying to find a schedule that works for both writing and editing is proving to be a difficult challenge. Yet I know it's something that has to be done. I just work better with large blocks of time. But the writing time so far has been the "block" that suffers. The Lord is still working on my listening skills—they're getting better, but still far from perfect.

Speaking of which, I should get on with things *grin*. We'll work a few more parallelism examples tomorrow.

Daily Bible reading: Isaiah 34–36; Mark 9:1–29

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Passion Most Pure

(Revell January 1, 2008)


Julie Lessman


Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.


She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...

As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart.

Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. Collin is trying to win her sister Charity's hand, and Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure is Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.

Interview with Julie:

How did you get started writing, and where has that journey taken you that you may not have expected starting out?

I started writing at the age of twelve after reading Gone With the Wind. That novel so impacted me that I immediately began writing my own romance novel—a 150-page, single-spaced ms. entitled When Tomorrow Comes, which, by the way, is now a Janette Oke title! But that initial manuscript is actually the basis for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. I used to read it to my little sister, Katie, and she loved it. But then adolescence hit, and I soon abandoned paper romance for the real thing as a teenager. J

Fast forward almost forty years later—I was sitting in a beauty parlor reading a Newsweek magazine July 16, 2001 cover article about Christian entertainment. It said Christian books, movies and music were on the threshold of exploding. My heart jumped, and something in my spirit said, “It’s time to finish your book.” Now, I have to be honest with you—up until that moment, I had never seriously considered writing a book. But the pull was so strong, that I started writing A Passion Most Pure one month later, finally selling it to Revell 4-1/2 years and 42 rejections later. This publishing journey has taken me to a place of such adrenalin high, that I honestly can say I never expected that!

How do you balance family life with writing?

Right now, it’s not too difficult since all that’s left at home is me, my husband and our golden retriever. But when my daughter comes home from college for a weekend or my son and daughter-in-law are in town to visit, they take first priority, so not a lot of writing gets done. But then, not a lot of writing is getting done NOW since this is the month my debut novel is out. Fortunately, all three books in The Daughters of Boston series are written (and all revised except book 3), so I have been spending most of my free time on interviews (when I’m not at my part-time travel-writer job). My husband doesn’t mind because he is an artist who does a lot of freelance work, so we sit back-to-back in a cozy, candle-lit computer room with our dog sprawled by our sides. It’s kind of nice because I like to lean back and kiss him (my husband, not the dog) after I put lip gloss on, which is pretty often J!

How does your walk with the Lord affect your writing? And how do you balance time with the Lord with your writing schedule?

My walk with the Lord IS the reason I write. Without Him, there would be no true passion to motivate me, because without Him, romance is empty and unsatisfying. But WITH Him at the center, WOW, everything heats up—my marriage, my job, my writing! He makes it all worthwhile and oh, so exciting!!

But you HAVE to connect with God if you are going to write for Him! And trust me, I don’t want to take one step without God by my side. In the past (before my book was published), my routine was peach oatmeal and coffee while I answered e-mails, then treadmill/worship music time, followed by Bible-reading and prayer. Not so much anymore. Because of the release of my first book and the demands of promotion (interviews, blogs, e-mails plus busy season at my day job), I felt convicted to NOT turn on my computer until I’d had my God time. Kind of a time-tithe, if you will. So now I eat oatmeal while reading my Bible, pray and THEN turn the computer on. Nix the treadmill (grin). MUCH, MUCH better!

Since my blog is geared to writers who want to improve their self-editing, could you briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision?

Well, I am a definite “Seat of the Pants” writer and first-line freak (for books and chapters), so all it takes is a first line that pops into my head, and I’m off and running. In book 3 (working title A Passion Denied), I did do a brief outline of scenes, but only because the story is so layered and complicated that I was forced to. You see, each book in the series grows more detailed and involved because I just HATE saying good-bye to characters I love in the first book of a series! So, I don’t! I incorporate sub-stories into each of the subsequent books for each of the characters you meet in A Passion Most Pure in addition to the hero and heroine.

As far as improving “self-editing,” I would strongly recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (my Bible in the beginning!!!), plus any other self-edit books you can pick up. Also, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maas was invaluable to me in deepening both plot and characters for A Passion Most Pure. Another writing tool that has become my writer’s Bible is The Synonym Finder by J. A. Rodale—fabulous tool!! Other things that helped me immeasurably along the way were writers’ contests, fiction-writing classes at my community college and writing seminars—all well worthwhile!

What kinds of things do you have to revise once the editor at a publishing house gets done with your manuscript?

Grin. Well, on A Passion Most Pure, surprisingly the editor didn’t make too many revisions, which shocked me because I expected heavy edits on scenes that might be perceived as too sensual. But she mostly just zeroed in on things to ensure historical accuracy. However, the copy editor who did the final proofing pretty much red-inked the manuscript to death (eliminated a lot of too modern-sounding words or “ing” words at the beginning of a sentence, which I do tend to overdo, plot comments, etc.). Fortunately, I found out that I could change any revisions that I did not agree with, which I did for about 50% of them.

On Book 2, however, which I actually wrote with the ABA in mind BEFORE I sold to Revell, I obviously had tons of revisions as to the sensuality factor, which I made with total confidence in the editor because bottom line, I prayed about the edits for a solid year before I received them, so I just figured this was the way God wanted it. I wasn’t about to argue with HIM!! J

Would you tell us a little about your future projects?

Well, all three books in the Daughters of Boston series are finished. Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, will be out in September 2008 and Book 3, working title A Passion Denied, will be released in February 2009. I had hoped to write a fourth book in the series since there are four daughters in the O’Connor family, but I haven’t sold it yet, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen there. Either way, I WILL write Katie’s story (Faith’s five-year-old sister in A Passion Most Pure) because I just HAVE to! She is a real pistol who comes of age in the Roaring Twenties, right before the Great Depression. After that, I would definitely like to do more series because I love writing about families in depth, exploring the emotional highs and lows of a large family (As one of 13 kids, I wonder why! J).

Finally, would you discuss A Passion Most Pure? The research, the idea, and the scope of the project?

As mentioned before, the “scope” of the project spans over 40 years, beginning with that first manuscript I wrote at the age of 12 after reading Gone With the Wind! But once God spurred me on to finish that childhood novel, that basic story of a love triangle in the midst of a war took root, and I fleshed it out with the loving family components I’ve been blessed with in my own wonderful marriage. Research on WWI and the era itself added the historical depth I needed, but it was really the spiritual depth that I was going for. God has done so much in my life—taking me from a hard, callous, bitter agnostic, to the wonder of His love and blessing—that I wanted to relate that in a real and natural way. To impact readers with the depth of His love, just like His amazing love impacted me. His love changed my heart forever, and it is my deepest hope and prayer that somehow, someway, this book will have a small part in doing the same for others.

Thank you, Marjorie, for allowing me this time to connect with your readers. God bless!

Margie here: Thank you, Julie, for letting us get to know you. I appreciate the time you spent with us.

I told Julie I was going to try to have a review ready by today, but . . . this week craziness exploded. Not what was in my PDA! Anyway, making no promises as to when, I do plan to review A Passion Most Pure and post it here. Hopefully before September when Julie's second book comes out. I've heard very good things about this book, and I'm looking forward to completing my read soon!

Daily Bible reading:

Sorry I missed getting this posted yesterday. As I said . . .

Thursday: Isaiah 26–27; Mark 6:30–56
Friday: Isaiah 28–29; Mark 7:1–13
Saturday: Isaiah 30–31; Mark 7:14–37
Sunday: Isaiah 32–33; Mark 8

Have a blessed weekend!